Todt: “Our envoy found a stable situation”

Posted: June 6, 2011 in Formula 1
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As the debate over the reinstatement of this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix goes on, the BBC’s Ted Kravitz has questioned FIA president Jean Todt on the reasons for the race’s return to the calendar.  The decision was taken after FIA vice-president Carlos Gracia visited the country, under the guidance of the royal family and selected branches of government.  Of Gracia’s visit, Todt said:

“Our special envoy had many meetings in Bahrain, even with the human rights people responsible.  He found a stable situation, a quiet one, and we unanimously agreed.

A unanimous vote means gaining the agreement of Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari’s team principal, along with Force India owner Vijay Mallya.  It has been suggested that their ‘yes’ votes may weaken the position of the teams should FOTA make any attempt to withdraw from or otherwise boycott the event.  It’s a fair and valid point, but it should also be considered that Ferrari have shareholders from the areas in and around Bahrain, while Vijay Mallya attended in his capacity as India’s representative on the council.  As mentioned previously, it’s rumoured that the organising committee in Delhi were in a race against time to make their original slot on the calendar, so the rearrangement of their Grand Prix to accommodate Bahrain need not be the end of the world.

The verbal jousting between Todt and Kravitz is never less than interesting, with Kravitz spending most of his time on the offensive, Todt never managing to put forward a wholly convincing argument and a certain amount of wriggle room left for cancelling the race again at a later date.  You can find further quotes, along with a video of the interview which might also work outside of the UK, on the BBC website.

When asked to comment on the opinions of Max Mosley and Mark Webber, two men who have already come out in opposition of the FIA’s decision, Todt suggested that we must take into consideration “what other people are saying.”  Apropos of nothing, obviously, here’s what Patrick Cockburn at The Independent is saying:

“Contrary to the FIA’s claim of to have detected a spirit of reconciliation on the island, a heavy police presence failed to halt protests in Shia villages yesterday. But it did stop demonstrators reaching the highways by use of tear gas and rubber bullets.

“Police broke up a rally in the village of Sanabis where some 500 people shouted “Down with (King) Hamad” and “Gulf forces out”, a reference to the 1,500 Saudi-led troops that entered Bahrain just before martial law was declared on 15 March.

“The demonstration began after the funeral of Zainab Ali Altajer, whose family said she died from the effect of a blast bomb. Activists said a man died yesterday from injuries suffered in the March protests, but an interior ministry statement said he died of natural causes.”

If Mr Cockburn was the only journalist filing such stories, you’d ask what his agenda was.  However, since The Associated Press and Reuters, to name but two respected news organisations, are saying the same thing, the inclination is to wonder rather more about what the FIA are up to.  That, or rethink your definition of the word ‘stable’.

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